‘Penitensya talaga ito’: Good Friday fire inflicts pain on QC residents amid Catholic reflections
MANILA, Philippines — On a solemn Good Friday, as Catholics reflected on Jesus Christ’s suffering, residents in Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City, endured their own pain when a sudden fire ravaged their homes.
The swift-moving blaze engulfed the informal settlement.
A resident who asked not to be named recalled watching the Holy Week Mass when cries of fire erupted in the neighborhood.
“Wala kaming nakuha. Biglaan, parang isang iglap, wala lahat kasi yung apoy, tuloy-tuloy na. Wala na kaming time kumuha ng gamit sa taas. Lahat, diretso nalang [nasunog]. Pati mga hayop namin, wala, as in wala. Parang seconds lang,” the resident said.
(In an instant, everything vanished due to the fire. No time to salvage belongings or rescue our pets – all lost within mere seconds.)
A resident with college-aged children felt lost, unsure of how to start anew after their hard work seemed fruitless.
“Penitensya talaga ito,” they said.
(This really is penitence.)
Another resident in the area, Annalyn Gumban, was alone in her house washing dishes when the fire struck.
According to Gumban, however, many fires had struck the area in the past.
“Akala ko naman maagapan, kasi pangatlong sunog na namin yan,” said Gumban, who had lived in the area for 30 years.
(When we encountered our third fire, I thought it would be put out swiftly.)
As the community leader urged evacuation, Gumban managed to grab only her stove. Amid the chaos, she heard explosions, likely from others’ gas stoves.
Gumban’s sibling was out of town for Holy Week when the fire struck. She does not know what became of their houses, as they lived next to one another.
Resident Marcelino Puring had tried to help stop the fire, along with other men in the community.
“Nung narinig kong may sunog, naghanap ako ng tubig at fire extinguisher. Ngayon, may dumating sa sakin na pangbomba, tinakbo ko kaagad doon. Binomba ko, malakas na yung apoy, di ko na kaya patayin,” said Puring.
(Upon learning about the fire, I quickly searched for water and a fire extinguisher. I found a hose and tried my best to douse the flames, but the fire was too big to put out.)
His house vanished too. Whether he relocates relies on government support. Puring mentioned preferring the city to a remote, inaccessible area with no livelihood opportunities.
“Holy Week na Holy Week. Tiyakang sobrang hirap ng buhay ngayon, lahat yan puro hirap din sa buhay. Lahat kami naiiyak sa nangyari na ito,” Puring said.
Buenvinido Mendoza managed to protect his family and vital documents from a fire but was angry with the fire’s origin. He hopes for a law preventing those who caused fires from residing in the same area again.
“Karamihan nag-ingat, yung isang tao, dalawa, walang pakialam,” he said.
(Most of us are careful, but one or two do not care)
Cooking may be the fire’s cause, according to the Bureau of Fire Protection, but the investigation continues.